ASSESSMENT OF COMMUNITY DRIVEN ECO-TOURISM ON MARINE RESOURCE CONSERVATION: THE CASE OF KURUWITU AND WASINI
ABANI, MARY MKAMBE
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ommunity driven ecotourism represents an approach that has in the recent past exhibited a significant contribution to the growth of the tourism sector globally. It encompasses decentralization reforms and emphasizes on community involvement in management of common pool resources to achieve a win-win situation. This is a shift from the top down conventional conservation through protection approach using marine protected areas that has seen resistance from local communities. International conservation policies and programs have emphasized the need to devolve power and meaningful involvement of the local communities in marine resource management. Managing open access resources has been complex due to multiple levels of governance. To enhance sustainable conservation of marine resources, CDEI approach to resource use and management is therefore advocated. Some proponents have proposed key design principles (KDPs) that communities can use to govern these resources. However, research on CDEI’s contribution to marine resource conservation is limited in Kenya; specifically in the context of Kuruwitu and Wasini conservation areas. This study evaluated CDEI’s use of KDPs in marine resource management, community perception and CDEI’s effectiveness in marine resource conservation at Kuruwitu and Wasini between January and March 2016. Descriptive survey design was used to conduct the study. A sample of 87 was used where members were clustered into eight landing sights and further, proportionately selected. 10 key informants were sampled using snowballing technique. Two focus group discussions were conducted on both sites. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics with the help of Microsoft excel and statistical viii package for social sciences (SPSS). Likert scale was used to assess the perception of the locals towards CDEI. Logistic regression was used to determine the effectiveness of CDEI in marine resource conservation while qualitative data was thematically analyzed guided by the study objectives. This study revealed that the KDPs are fairly understood but not fully implemented with an average of 71.30% usage as a result of inadequacy in capacity contributed to by the low levels of education. The community perceives CDEI as a good approach to marine resource conservation with an exemplary rating of 85% and 57% for Wasini and Kuruwitu respectively. The approach scored 68% and 50% for Kuruwitu and Wasini on best practice rating in marine resource conservation. Its adoption as a best practice will need to address issues of benefit sharing, alienation and slow development in order to realize set goals. The CDEI approach is significant with a positive relationship for predator variables related to income and active involvement in decision making in resource use. The odds ratio in favor of marine resource increase, increases by 15.6 as community member involvement in decision making increases. However, the socio-economic gains have not been fully achieved as members have multiple income sources other than CDEI for their daily needs. This study informs all relevant stakeholders and funding institutions that CDEI approach can achieve its full potential if professionalism and partnerships, coupled with positive community perception and profitable participation are effectively realized in the management of the marine commons for posterity.